Veteran Stories:
Malcolm Young


  • Malcolm Young in uniform, 2003.

    Malcom Young
  • Malcolm Young's life was saved by virtue of the fact that he was wearing his camera slung around his body when he came under fire, and any shrapnel was deflected, 1944.

    Malcom Young
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"But we were just about to give the order to fire, when someone, a civilian, came out with a white flag. So naturally, we held our fire"


My name is Malcolm Young. I joined the Canadian Army in 1941. One of the questions... most interesting ones is, "Were you ever scared?" And of course, I admit that I was. As a matter of fact, when I landed in France, I had diarrhea. Good example of how scared you can get. And as we progressed up through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, there were many experiences. Some of them bad of course. But there were many that were fun experiences in a sense. One is my vest pocket camera, as it was called in those days. As high as 127 film which is no longer available. And I had it in my vest pocket when we had a little bit of a mix up with the enemy. And some of the shrapnel hit me, but it hit my vest pocket. And the camera actually acted like a shield. So I'm probably here today because of that camera.

We were the 8th Reconnaissance Regiment, 2nd Division. We went down looking for the enemy. And how did we find him? Well, he usually fired on us. And that gave us a chance to find him and rout him out. But in one case we were replacing a troop who was on the front line, and I was the lieutenant of the troop with the lead car with my other cars and carriers all behind. And I was going along and I looked back and I didn't have any of my troop. I was on my own. So I got on the wireless and I got a hold of the sergeant in charge. He said, "It's okay, sir. It's okay. We just found a field of cabbage and we're cutting some for dinner tonight." So they did. And that was one of the interesting, fun things that happened. Now there was another incidence though where our lead car went into action and he came out and the sergeant, Len Mace, who was a very fearless sergeant, came out and he was absolutely furious. "What happened, Len?" "Well," he says, "You know, sir, we haven't been drinking the rum ration, we've been storing it up. And we had the bottle of rum on the outside of the car." Well, now you can guess what happened. We went into action and they shot the car up pretty badly. But they really shot up the bottle of rum which leaked all over the ground. So he was a pretty upset sergeant for that one.

There was another case where we held our fire fortunately. We were moving front and trying to find the Germans. And there was this big barn. And we thought it would be probably well filled with enemy troops. So we thought, "Well, we should fire it up with tracer and burn it, that'll bring them out." But we were just about to give the order to fire, when someone, a civilian, came out with a white flag. So naturally, we held our fire. And fortunately, because behind that civilian were about 200 men, women and children, from the area who had been living in the barn. They came up past us and of course, they were very happy because they were going to be prisoners or into a camp at least. And now, we had saved them, in effect, from a fiery death.

Follow us